A vivid, behind-the-scenes examination of the close relationship between George Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev in the last scenes of the cold war. Seldom has recent diplomacy been described with the kind of depth provided here by Beschloss (The Crisis Years, 1991, etc.) and Time editor-at-large Talbott (The Master of the Game, 1988, etc.). With the help of unusual access so close to events--there are notes on closed-door meetings, negotiating sessions, and telephone calls, and just-after-the-fact discussions with diplomats (many of whom seem to bask in self-importance)--the authors show in almost day- by-day fashion how the US and Soviet governments moved from lingering suspicion to partnership in the ``new world order.'' Along the way, they reveal how, during the first six months of the Bush Administration, the Americans grumbled about Gorbachev's diplomatic grandstanding while the Soviets fumed over the mystifying ``pause'' Bush took before pursuing the diplomatic initiatives of Ronald Reagan; how Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze finally convinced an initially skeptical James Baker of his good faith in bargaining; how Bush and Gorbachev worked out their differences on German reunification and the Persian Gulf War; and how Richard Nixon received a warning of the abortive coup against Gorbachev several months before it occurred. While giving the American and Soviet leaders high marks for developing the trust that helped them end the cold war, Beschloss and Talbott also criticize their curious political tone-deafness (Gorbachev's shift toward the right encouraged Kremlin hard-liners to crack down on the Baltics, while Bush's concern for ``prudence'' made him prefer dealing with institutional leaders like Gorbachev and Poland's Gen. Jaruzelski rather than revolutionaries Lech Walesa and Boris Yeltsin). Despite the self-serving tone of many of the diplomats interviewed: a superb early take on a watershed period in diplomatic history.